March 18, 2013 Library Hosts Symposium and Performance on African-American Spirituals of the Civil War

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Nicholas A. Brown (202) 707-8437

The Library of Congress presents an in-depth exploration of African-American spirituals of the Civil War on Saturday, March 30, at 10:30 a.m. as part of the ongoing commemoration of the war’s 150th anniversary. This program features a spirituals performance workshop led by J. Weldon Norris, director of choruses at Howard University and a leading performer-scholar of spirituals; a panel discussion on “The Legacy of Civil War Spirituals”; and a performance by the Howard University Chorale and Baltimore City College High School Choir. The event is presented in association with the Daniel A.P. Murray African American Culture Association of the Library of Congress.

All programming takes place in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C.

All events are free, but reservations are required. Contact Nicholas A. Brown at (202) 707-5502 or

Event Schedule

African-American Spirituals of the Civil War
10:30 a.m. – Spirituals performance workshop with J. Weldon Norris featuring the Baltimore City College High School Choir, Linda R. Hall, Director

Panel Discussion: The Legacy of Civil War Spirituals
1 p.m. – Speakers are J. Weldon Norris, Howard University; Steven Cornelius, Boston University; and Samuel Perryman, music reference specialist, Library of Congress

2 p.m. – Baltimore City College High School Choir and the Howard University Chorale are featured performers

Led by Norris since 1973, the Howard University Chorale is widely recognized for its definitive interpretations of spirituals and work songs and of music by composers of African descent. The chorale’s performances of spirituals have been called “mesmerizingly beautiful” by the Washington Post. The award-winning choir has toured internationally, including performances in Rome, Tokyo, Paris, Russia, Spain and England.

The Baltimore City College High School Choir, under the direction of Linda R. Hall is one of the leading youth choruses in America. Comprised of talented young singers, the choir has performed at the White House and Carnegie Hall. The choir has shared the stage with the Baltimore Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. It has toured in Italy, France and Spain. Hall is a renowned music educator in the mid-Atlantic region. Her leadership has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Baltimore City Council’s Teacher of the Year Award.

Concerts from the Library of Congress, a series of performances, lectures and special events, are made possible through the generous support of endowments given to the Library by private donors. The series is presented free of charge to the public.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 13-050
ISSN 0731-3527